Grants awarded

Symmetry breaking mechanisms in Drosophila neural stem cells

Grantholder:

Dr Jens Januschke

University of Dundee

United Kingdom

The regulation and maintenance of stem cells is complex and depends on short range reciprocal signalling between stem cells and their microenvironment, collectively called the niche.

I propose to investigate the molecular mechanisms controlling how highly proliferative neural stem cells from Drosophila remain in their niche. I will focus on the symmetry-breaking mechanisms that establish the axis of polarity and how this signal is transduced to achieve division orientation and cell fate determination. We have evidence that stem cell daughters send the symmetry-breaking signal and propose to reveal the molecular nature of this signal by identifying the genes involved. We will use an RNA interference live imaging screen and probing to examine the influence of mechanical stresses on stem cell polarisation that we suspect to influence symmetry breaking.

These studies will help us understand fundamental principles of the establishment of cell polarity and the mechanobiological influence that allows stem cells to create their own niche.